Women in marriage did not gain much pleasure. They married between the ages of twelve and eighteen. (Kagan 53) The marriage was arranged by their fathers. Marriages were conducted with these words, I give this women for the procreation of legitimate children...I accept...And I give a certain amount as dowry...I am content. Clearly the purpose of the women was to bear children. The role of the husband is vague and seems as though he doesn t play much of a role in the household. Contact with other men was not allowed for the wives, yet for the husband it was common to pursue adulterous relationships. An Athenian male stated Hetairai we have for our pleasure, mistresses for the refreshment of our bodies, but wives to bear us legitimate children and to look after the house faithfully. (Spielvogel 75) Kill your own son s bride?...Oh, there are other fields for him to plough. Was Creons answer to Ismene concerning his son s marriage to Antigone. (Beatty 69) Prostitution prospered during these times. There were two classes of prostitution. There were the slaves run by citizens and the refined courtesans. (Spielvogel 100) Male prostitutes were not citizens but foreigners. Female citizens were prostitutes, yet male prostitutes were not allowed. (Spielvogel 92) Take them and keep them within. The proper place for women. (Beatty 70) In other words women did not have any place in public life. Their place was in the home raising children and running the household. It was of great importance for women to give birth to male children. The son would become the heir of the father. (Spielvogel 100) Only for this do fathers pray for sons. Obedient, loyal, ready to strike down (Beatty 71) Men also believed that a women s body was not capable to handle the weather. For this reason they should remain inside. (Spielvogel 101) Myths were used to justify the subjection of women. Myths about the first woman, Pandora, explained the supposed evil nature of women. In revenge of Prometheus giving fire to man, Zeus sent Pandora. When they took the gift of Pandora, they brought out evil. There were different versions of this myth. In a better version Pandora was curious. She opened a jar unaware she would release evil into the world. Slightly improving the image of women, yet Pandora is conclusively responsible for evil. (Kishlansky 54) Creon explained
to his son, To all one s enemies. Do not be fooled, my son, By lust and the wiles of women. (Beatty 70) It s evident many men believed they were superior to women. Creon refused to lose a battle to a woman. And will never betray it-least of all for a woman. Better be beaten, if needed, by a man, Than let a woman get the better of us. (Beatty 71) Whatever the battle was men did not want to be beat by women. Only men were allowed to participate and attend the Olympic games. Women were made separate games to attend. These separate games were dedicated to Hera, Zeus s wife. These games were attended by unmarried women. The women were allowed to compete in footraces on short tracks. They wore tunics, while the men competed naked. Women who won the races did not receive the same honors as men. Men received public honors and a lifetime supply of food, paid for by the public. (Kishlansky 53) It seemed as though all men did not believe women had rights. There were some men who did believe women were more than housewives and bearers of children. Haemon states Nor wish to be clever enough to prove you wrong, Though all men might not think the same as you do. (Beatty 71) In a Euripide tragedy a women described her place in society. We women are the most unfortunate creatures. . . child. (Kishlansky 76) In many other plays the main characters were women. This may suggest women played a more profound role in society than portrayed by law.(Kagan 53) Even some of the wisest men were blinded to the rights of women. When Socrates was sentenced to death he had sent the women away. After he swallowed poison many of the male watchers began crying. Really my friends, what a way to behave! Why, that was my main reason for sending away the women, to prevent this sort of disturbance; (Spielvogel 96) Creon agreed that women lacked control of their emotions Despicable coward! No more will than a woman! (Beatty 72) The women of ancient Greek times suffered many hardships. They were only considered citizens for the sake of marriage and other duties to help men. They were considered evil and better off invisible. There were a few supporters of women. In many plays women were depicted as strong willed people. This leaves the likelihood that women were perceived as more than servers. It astonishes me to see some of these traditional views are still held, but luckily by a very small population.